There’s a saying, “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.” I am amazed how many times this shows up for me. “Bad” first impressions cause me to respond differently depending on the situation. In the case of the missed diagnosis I received at a local health center (see July 3rd post, Listen Up People), I did NOT go back to the same health care provider, but saw someone else and then wrote a letter to the supervising powers that be. The provider was informed of their mistake and my insurance company and I received refunds for the visit.
In the most recent incident of a “bad” first impression (Ground Rules, Sept 12) I hoped to clean it up, clear the air and go for a second chance, a “replacement” impression. Rather than wait for my next appointment, still weeks away, I decided to call the health care provider to see if she was willing to have a conversation about our communication snafu and “bad” first impression. Little did I know HOW BAD it was! Before we even met we had a rocky start with scheduling problems that her staff mishandled. She assumed that I blamed her because I complained heartily to the staff and made a clear demand for remedy. I can be such a bitch, that’s a good thing sometimes, it gets action!
Here is what we discovered in our conversation that I never would have realized had we not talked. When I met this newest member of my health care team (a woman with years of experience in this specialty) I began by acknowledging her for “making our appointment work” and she was completely offended and insulted! Oh my, what had I done? My husband tells me “you’re not like most people, Cate, she didn’t get it, she thought you were being sarcastic.” Wow, I was shocked and dismayed to realize that I had begun the downward spiral in communication with this vitally important member of my health care team and that I was oblivious to the fact and I had been blaming her! Well, truth be known, we are each responsible. Everything that I shared in my last post DID happen and it was unpleasant and unsettling. Relationships are co-created. The important part was that I knew something was really OFF and there was no way I was going to let it slide and lose more energy fretting about it. I made an invitation to clear the air, she was willing, we have a fresh start, powerful co-creators of our relationship and partners in my health care! Very empowering.
Where do you need to walk away from a bad first impression? Where do you need to set a boundary or take action? Where do you need to consider giving that bad first impression a rest and giving yourself and the other person a second chance by clearing the air?
Love your blogs, Cate. And yes, sometimes we don’t know how others experience us, but we have to go with our gut. Healthcare is still a service, and in my opinion, forgive me for projecting, I think it’s the staff’s responsibility to make the patient feel heard, comfortable and at ease, and to take the extra step to “not take it personally” if a patients gets a little testy!! For goodness sake, you may be uneasy or even scared about your treatments and their job…..even though they don’t teach it in most medical schools, is to have a nice bedside manner. I’m on your side here Cate….good impression or not!
I love this follow up, particularly the part where you took responsibility for clearing the air. That’s such a courageous decision. And it totally inspires me to be alert for situations where I can do the same. Thank you so much for reminding me that the way I see a situation is truly ONLY one side of the story. The only way we ever get the other side is to ask and then be willing to LISTEN.